by Steven Ertelt
August 15, 2006
Montgomery, AL (LifeNews.com) — The Alabama state health department has suspended the license of a Montgomery, Alabama abortion business that lacked proper emergency care for women who may suffer from botched abortions. Health officials said the abortion center did not have a backup physician as required by state law in medical emergency cases.
The suspension follows on the heels of the closing of a Birmingham abortion business that fabricated official health records after a nurse illegally gave a woman late in pregnancy the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug.
The Alabama Department of Health suspended the license of the Reproductive Health Services (RPH) abortion business in Montgomery on Monday.
The agency also said the abortion center failed to have a doctor with admitting privileges at a local hospital to be able to admit women who may need emergency medical treatment following a botched abortion.
The health department said the violation "constitutes a danger to public health and welfare."
Bureau of Health Provider Standards director Rick Harris told the Associated Press that health officials are still reviewing RPH’s records from a second inspection authorities conducted. A full report on the problems is expected in 10 days.
“The action taken today confirms that the abortion industry is only interested in profits and not the healthcare of women before or after an abortion," Christian Coalition of Alabama president John Giles said in response.
"In fact, women leave abortion facilities all over this state and report the buildings look as if they are furnished from a second hand store and resemble a third world medical facility," Giles said in a statement provided to LifeNews.com.
The suspension of RPH’s license comes two months after Summit Medical Center in Birmingham closed permanently.
The woman Summit gave the abortion drug to had a severely high blood pressure and needed medical attention, later gave birth to a stillborn baby.
Only a doctor is supposed to dispense the dangerous abortion drug and the mifepristone pills are only intended to be used in the early stages of a pregnancy. The woman went to an emergency room six days later and gave birth to a 6-pound, 4-ounce stillborn baby.
The state medical board has also temporarily prohibited abortion practitioner Deborah Lyn Levich and Summit Medical Center nurse Janet F. Onthank King from practicing medicine.
Levich and King have been prohibited from working with each other again after Levich allowed King to dispense the abortion drug, as only licensed physicians are allowed to do that.
Following the incident, Harris began inspecting the state’s other abortion facilities, which led to the findings of the problems at RPH. Last week, he said current rules are apparently not clear enough for abortion facilities to understand and implement.
He would not tell the Associated Press which rules were unclear but said that proposed changes to state law would be ready in 45 days.
The rules change comes after representatives of pro-life groups and pro-life former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore met with state health authorities.
Giles also participated in the meeting and said those present "conceded that the Summit Clinic closing in Birmingham was a wake up call about the danger to public health and welfare."
Giles told LifeNews.com in the statement that he was "confident" that the state health department "has made the upgrading of regulations, inspections and enforcement of standards a priority."
"I have taken them at their word to work within their statutory authority to protect these vulnerable women who think abortion is their only option," he added.
At Summit, officials said they found "egregious lapses in care, including non-physicians performing abortions, severely underestimating the gestational age of a fetus, failure to appropriately refer or treat a patient with a dangerously elevated blood pressure, and performing an abortion on a late-term pregnancy."
"That’s not something we do very often," Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer, told the Birmingham News of revoking the abortion center’s license. "The incident involved multiple and serious violations of the rules. There was no other means to address it except an emergency suspension."
"She was almost certainly in the third trimester and near term," Williamson told the News about the woman. "What’s clear here is that it wasn’t used appropriately," he said of the abortion drug.
According to the suspension order LifeNews.com obtained, the woman had a "critical and dangerously high" blood pressure reading of 182/129.
"That in and of itself would have demanded immediate medical attention," Williamson said. Instead, the staff went ahead with the abortion.
Summit Medical Centers operates seven abortion businesses in five states and has another abortion center in Montgomery, Alabama.
It is the abortion business that employed Malachy Dehenre, who lost his medical license in both Alabama and Mississippi because of botched abortions.